1. "Marry the Night" -
This song starts a lot of the album's later themes of freedom through bar-hopping, self-expression through "rebel" fashion, and one-night-to-live recklessness = you know you're alive. I used to think it was the best but "Unicorn" presents amazing competition. This might be the better lyrically, though. With lines like "I'm a winner," then later, "I'm a loser"; if it's meant to be unapologetic and emancipating, it feels sullen and bittersweet. But it's a good transformer: it becomes livelier in the last 90 seconds and ends in a blaze of glory.
2. "Born This Way" -
This song works a lot better as a follow-up to "Marry the Night," as a track to further the album sonically, rather than thematically. I remained an ardent disbeliever in the song's power up until the moment the album was released on May 23rd of this year. I mean, let's face it: the lyrics are a joke. Or, to be more accurate, they have greater relevance to a person's self-important delusions of being great because
they were born rather than to a generation of victims of vicious intolerance because of the way they were born. Their skin color, sexual orientation, gender, etc. The superstar comparison really ruins it. Even though it aims to be the all-time anthem of acceptance, it's a drama queen song (and, GOD, the last thing we need is a new "Believe"). But that's thematically. Sonically, it's the millipede that burrows its' way into your ear and won't get out. Or, barring that, it comes to have superior meaning later. In moments where you didn't expect it to, it can provide great inspiration. Even if it is a drama song, it's a pretty good one. I admit- this one's kind of confusing.
3. "Government Hooker" -
The album's clear breakneck slut anthem. The lyrics' pollution of the theme of politicians being whores with the pretentious inclusion of JFK idolatry is the only flaw. Otherwise, it's a hot and scary mess. Full-force, passionate yet frozen, hardcore minded. A powerful achievement. If this isn't a single, the Haus of Gaga are out of their blasted heads. I'd kill to see what the video would look like!
4. "Judas" -
As my comments on the last song probably indicate, I'm not very Keen on Gaga trying to conjure images of famous celebrities and biblical figures directly into a song's lyrics. It feels cheap and pretentious, like justification for wacky lines like "Judas kiss me if offensed or wear ear condom next time." In fact, she almost ruined the otherwise perfect "Dance in the Dark" from The Fame Monster
with that unbelievably painful compilation of dead tragic female figures (oh, and, Liberace- why was he included?). It didn't feel natural or appropriate, it felt badly forced. Her more interesting messages are always implied through tone of the music's sound and imagery of the lyrics themselves. This one's an incredible thunder-on-the-mountain romp with the momentum of a wildly swung, king-sized sledgehammer that really is different from "Bad Romance." Mostly in its' pounding, stomping boot-wrapped toes. The biker-themed video wasn't a mistake, this frosty track has spark plugs hooked up to it.
5. "Americano" -
Initially, this was my vote for worst song on the album*. However, this time, the lyrics really
make up for her awful wailing. I mean: this is a socio-politically charged little track!! Even the most bull-headed anti-Gaga person on UD has to admit this is a passionately pro-gay anthem. One that even manages to tap into emotions with the non-screaming portions. She's still trying to be a robot, but the music tells a different story. And her vocal performance I think reflects how I feel about the issue of gay marriage: the opponents inspire anger (and this is an angry performance on her part- which I appreciate), cynicism, and a physical sense of pointed rage. Though, I don't object to the idea of her screaming and trying to spearhead a sonic revolution within the song itself, it's incredibly trying on the ears after 2 minutes. Production-wise, this song sounds good on very few systems. So, you're forced to just go with the noise. These lyrics, however. Said it but I need to say it again: they're something else. If she confesses on another track that she serves "Jesus Christ" above everyone but her father, it means a lot for her to have to say "I don't speak your Jesus Cristo" to anyone. In that one sentence, she exposes the world's abuse of religious language for the purpose of labeling many of its' own believers as sinners for their love. The track also aims to suggest politicians are cheap for trying to limit the ability of gays to marry to "on the West Coast on a Wednesday."
6. "Hair" -
I don't know where I said this first but, if my hands are tied and there's a gun pressed against my forehead, I think the only reason for this song and "The Edge of Glory"s existence is to try to make the saxophone cool again. It never stopped being cool. But public taste dictated that it be left to the 80's, Lisa Simpson, and cheesy, direct-to-video action-thrillers of the early 90's. Thematically, there's more "lemme be free" screaming. And..., wow is it lame here. This could only be an empowering message for... well, the temptation is to say Angela Chase (My So-Called Life
), but, I'm actually going to go with the 'angry' loner chick with blue hair in that "very special episode" of The Secret World of Alex Mack
. Like many people have said about high school not being the end of the world, so I feel a learning pamphlet should probably be distributed to every fan of this song letting them know that parents' control over us doesn't last forever. Consider me biased, but I think hearing someone talking (singing) from a kids' point of view trying to rebel against their parents' controlling how they look is silly and is only relatable if you're 16 or younger. Even by
16 I'd gotten over it. If you're really free, you don't have to tell people your hair is yours and no one else's. This doesn't strike me as the song where people believe it definitively, you know?
7. "Scheiße" -
Killer dance song. And Gaga's singing is great.
8. "Bloody Mary" -
I really don't like this song. If this album has a consistent groove reminiscent of crawling insects monster-ized by some cross between Frankenstein
's lightning bolt rebirth and The Tingler
's brooding throb, this is the point where the turning worm inspires nausea. This is the seasickness song. And I don't enjoy vomiting or clutching my stomach. I suppose the lyrics are interesting though.
9. "Bad Kids" -
Fun name-dropping of and general rebelling against different derogatory labels people have been given over the decades. But I'm kinda getting tired of the album wanting us to feel dramatic or sappy about being misunderstood or prejudged. Part of the song almost seems to say "fuck you" to it but the other parts are all 'oh, if we only lived in another world
'. I'm usually in the mood to kick ass, so the whiny chorus and "I'm not that typical" sections are too soft for me.
10. "Highway Unicorn (Road to Love)" -
Now... here's perhaps the best sappy song on the album. Even though it tries to edge itself up with declarations like "we're gonna drink until we die." And well before this point, it got pretty touching. It seems the most autobiographical for Gaga and a story through here's-what-I-did experience. Almost impossible not to love the song. Would make a great final single. Excellent drums. And Gaga's singing is powerful.
11. "Heavy Metal Lover" -
This song has been the most substantial polar switch in my opinions on the album over time. I aboslutely hated it the first time hearing it. On every subsequent listen, I become more convinced it's a perfect track. It's immaculately produced and has a real wondrous wasteland vibe. If only this song had existed in Hardware
's time (seems tailor-made for that film).
12. "Electric Chapel" -
This was one of my favorites right off the bat. And I still like it. But the verses are so
Madonna, especially in her singing. It feels like she's not just copying musical themes but she's trying to become
her. It's sweet and well-placed on the album. But it isn't the toweringly poignant guilty-sexy secret meeting or forbidden love anthem that it almost feels like it's trying to be. Love the guitar.
13. "Yoü and I" -
I admit it's good. But... what can I say? I thought "Brown Eyes" was better as an album-tilting last-call weird-love song saluting the glory of drunken poeticism. This one has just become way too hyped when you can pretty much tell no other artist could have made this song a hit. Downhome drinking at neighborhood bars just isn't that pop / club right now (is it making a comeback?). So, yeah thank the loyal fanbase for being open-minded enough to follow her anywhere. But for Gaga's reputation, the last thing we need is everyone else thinking is that she's trying to be Bruce Springsteen or something (yes, I'm actually talking about the music and not the male counterpart character she created for herself). Just like I think in "Born This Way," Gaga isn't the kind of artist we should have emancipating listeners through stories of a mother putting makeup on her kid, I don't think she's the artist to bring back the we're-all-united-through-a-shared-round-of-drinks thing without some serious thought behind it. This song kind of feels like she's saying if she stomps loud enough and sings like a lioness that will make everyone believe she can pull this off without having to think about it. This just isn't the right direction for her. At least not as is. The lyrics don't feel like they mean anything, they raise more questions than answers. Which is only a problem because the tone of the song is celebratory. Start stripping away the layers of production pizazz and I think you'll find something hollow at the core of this song. I don't believe it's anywhere near as soulful as it does.
14. "The Edge of Glory" -
Yeah, I've heard the stories of where this song came from. Too bad for me, since I very seldomly have that much insight into the events inspiring a song's creation. However, I don't like this one. It feels like a retread of "Highway Unicorn (Road to Love)," attempting to be springier and poppier. Then the only real passion is coming from the saxophone. The chorus and, especially, the "with you-with you-with you (...)"s are nice but the beat is mostly boring and the weird machine blip breathing is stupid. However, I did like the little Reading Rainbow
influence they stuck in there in the last couple minutes.
* Actually, that's not true. First it was "Heavy Metal Lover," now it's easily "Bloody Mary."
Again, cynics of Gaga have to give her some credit: she really cares about people. Name one other popstar who has actually taken their supposed message of declaring independence through both subversion and listen-up(!!) calls to the degree she has. Christina Aguilera, Ke$ha, and even En Vogue in comparison merely flirted with making waves in the freedom of musical speech department. Lady Gaga may copy other artists but she's still a revolutionary of concept and themes. It's a sleek bulldozer of an album but it does get weighed down several times. But this is also by far, her most challenging work to date. Even I can't swallow all of this without choking a little.
Overall Album Rating
Standard 14-track Version:
Tracks Worth Purchasing
(via-Digital Music Downloads):
"Marry the Night"
"Highway Unicorn (Road to Love)"
Tracks to Consider Purchasing
"Born This Way"
"Yoü and I"
Disney's Divinity wrote:
"Hummingbird Heartbeat" (best song after "Teenage Dream")
I know I'm way behind, but I felt entirely the same way about that one. "Teenage Dream" is the only reason I got my sister to get a copy of the ablum from a friend, and "Hummingbird" was the only other song that I really enjoyed from it. The rest is kind of a waste.
Forgot to say that I agree with you. I probably mentioned in my review that I really liked "Teenage Dream," but... yeah, I really